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Annapurna North - More rain and snow halts plans
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May 20, 2004 09: 42 EST
Simone just sent over the latest from Anna North. No new news from Piotr on the South Face yet.

"It's been raining for 24 hours from 5000m and up. We are quite worried that all this rain here means snow on the upper part of the mountain and it could increase the danger of our climb. But we know that nature will follow its own course.

Today we received a phone call from Ralf, Gerlinde and Hiroata. They were in the airport ready to fly here by helicopter but the bad weather stopped them. Tomorrow they will try again and we will keep in touch with the weather reports here.

Ciao,

Simone & friends"

First off, the Italian/Kazakh combo Denis Urubko and Simone Moro, along with Camos, climbed the North Wall on Baruntse, 7129m. They reached the Kali Himal (Black Summit) of Baruntse, also known as the North Summit at 7014m via a new route up the North Face. The true summit was left untouched due to hard wind. The new line is named "Ciao Patrick" as a tribute to Patrick Berhault, lost to Dom this month. Now, Simone, Denis and Boris Korshunov have moved to Annapurna’s North Face, attempting a new line on it.

Pushing for the summit of Anna right now is Piotr Pustelniks team, climbing Annapurna South Face via the classic Bonnington route. This is Piotrs 13th 8000er and then he has only Broad Peak left. Serguey Bogomolov, 43, is also joining the team. For Serguey this will be his 12th 8,000er. In July 2002 he climbed Shisha Pangma by a new route, crossing to the formerly unclimbed North-East ridge.

Year after year, climbers return to Annapurna despite its reputation as a difficult, dangerous mountain (a reputation earned in large part due to the high risk of avalanche.) In autumn 2002, an International Expedition team including Carlos Pauner and Silvio Mondinelli called off their attempt after heavy snows rendered the route too dangerous to continue.

Avalanche risk also prevented Ed Viesturs from summiting the peak in spring that year, his second attempt in two years. For Viesturs, whose own climbing career was inspired by reading Herzog’s book when he was 16, Annapurna remains his final 8,000m summit in his Endeavor 8000 quest to scale the fourteen 8,000m peaks. Ed is returning to Annapurna this year, after summiting Everest.

Annapurna (8,091 m) is statistically the most dangerous peak of all the eight thousanders. The overall summit/fatality rate is 41% (although not all climbers summit of course).

Annapurna was the very first 8,000m peak ever summited. In 1950, French climbers Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal used only a rough map as a guide, and picked their way up an untried route to the summit. Their descent turned into a hellish nightmare, leaving them near death, with their extremities completely deadened by frostbite. Herzog and Lachenal survived their ordeal, but too many others have tragically lost their lives over the years.

On Christmas Day 1997, Anatoli Boukreev was killed in an avalanche, an event that shocked the mountaineering community. Now, Denis Urubko is climbing the mountain in Anatoli's honor. In total, only 130 climbers have summited Annapurna.

Image of team in BC, courtesy of Simone Moro.

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